Protect Yourself, Protect Your Baby. Get Your Flu Shot Today!

December 4th, 2012

In support of efforts for National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), we welcome two guest bloggers, Dr. Karen Wong from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Laura Scott, Executive Director of Families Fighting Flu (FFF). These organizations are working together to raise awareness about the importance of flu vaccination and maternal-child health. Today, Dr. Karen Wong shares why it’s important for pregnant women to get the flu vaccine – for their health and the health of their newborn. Check back tomorrow for Laura Scott’s post on how flu personally impacts families.

by Dr. Karen Wong
Physician and Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer
Influenza Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fall and winter is flu season, so it’s important for everyone to understand the seriousness of flu for pregnant women and babies, and how it can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination as the single best way to prevent the flu. This is especially important for pregnant women, because a flu shot not only provides protection to the mother, but also to her baby for up to six months after birth. Babies younger than six months of age are too young to get a flu vaccine, so families can help protect the baby and prevent flu from spreading when the mother and other caregivers – including other household members, relatives, and babysitters – get a flu vaccine.

By making flu shots a priority, pregnant women not only provide protection for their babies, but also reduce their own risk of flu-related complications that can affect their pregnancies. Even in generally healthy pregnant women, flu infection can result in serious illness. This is partially due to normal changes in immune, heart, and lung functions that occur during pregnancy. Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization and death than non-pregnant women. Severe illness in the pregnant mother can also be dangerous because it increases the chance for serious problems such as premature labor and delivery.

The good news is that it’s not too late to get your flu shot. Flu activity is increasing in parts of the country, and further increases are expected in the coming weeks and months. If you are concerned about getting your flu shot, know that millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years. Research has shown that when pregnant women get flu shots, they and their babies get the flu less often.

CDC recommends that pregnant women receive the flu shot, not the nasal spray vaccine. A flu shot can be safely given during any trimester of pregnancy. Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, government health departments, pharmacies, workplaces, and in some schools. You can find vaccination locations in your area by visiting To learn more about flu vaccination and pregnant women, visit

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by to protect yourself and your baby. Get your flu shot today, and encourage other close contacts to do the same.

Remember …

  • When pregnant women get their flu shots, they and their babies (after birth) get the flu less often.
  • An additional way to protect the baby is for all caregivers and close contacts (including family members and babysitters) to get a flu vaccine.
  • The flu shot can be given at any time during your pregnancy (at any trimester).
  • Women who have just delivered (postpartum) also are at risk for influenza and should be vaccinated if they have not yet received a flu vaccine.

Check back tomorrow, as Laura Scott from Families Fighting Flu shares personal stories from their members on the seriousness of flu.